- Alternate Character Interpretation: People have been arguing over whether Medea was justified or not for over two thousand years, and it doesn't look like it's gonna end anytime soon.
- Fair for Its Day: The many references and stereotypes of Medea as the Hysterical Woman are enough to make the modern reader cringe, but remember Medea is one of the few instances in Ancient Greece of a woman being the protagonist in a play (and a rather active one at that) with her name on the title and sympathetic character flaws and motivations.
- Jerkass Woobie: Medea, past her Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds phase.
- Jason is an unapologetic Jerkass for most of the play, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him after he discovers that Medea killed their children and desperately begs her to let him give them a proper burial.
- Moral Event Horizon: Which of the two principal characters is more justified - and whether one or both cross this line - has been a point of contention for too long to remember.
- Jason: by abandoning and betraying Medea after she sacrificed everything to be with him, effectively condemning her two children to a bleak future and possible enslavement.
- Medea: by killing her two children, after she kills his new bride by lighting her on fire with magic poison. Her motivation was a combination of Mercy Kill and hurting Jason.
- In mythological canon, Medea committed numerous other atrocities before the play even begins - although these were not all part of her story until after Euripides wrote the play. They include: a) chopping up her younger brother and tossed the pieces into the ocean so that her father would have to delay his pursuit to gather the pieces for a proper burial (this was so awful that Jason's intervention was the only thing keeping the rest of the Argonauts from tossing her overboard too), and b) convincing two kids to cut up their father and put the pieces in boiling water, under the pretense that it will make him younger.
- Rooting for the Empire: Admit it, you have some point rooting for Medea to succeed in her revenge because of how horrible Jason and everyone treating her. That is until she kills her children... Play straight for adaptations that mention this is the only way for them to not become slaves.
- Values Dissonance: Medea would be a Villain Protagonist to us, if an extremely sympathetic one, but to Euripides and the chorus, she's just tragic. In both cases, her acts (particularly the murder of her children, born of a foreigner or not) would have been unconscionable. This also applies to Jason.
- The fact that Medea kills her children to protect from slavery because she is a foreigner tends to get lost with the modern audience if not mentioned in adaptations.
- Values Resonance: The fact that one of Medea's struggle is being a woman in a male-dominated world that treats her unfairly is still extremely sympathetic and relatable to a female audience is what revives the play with the feminist movement.
- Vindicated by History: The play came in last in the Dionysia festival when it premiered. This was not uncommon for Euripides, who was controversial ñ in his own time.
- What an Idiot!: Jason, for the following reasons:
- When Medea murdered her brother and cut him up into little chunks to save Jason, Jason was so awed by her devotion to him that he swore by the Twelve Gods of Olympus that he would stay with her until the day he died. It does not occur to Jason that dumping his devoted wife is thusly a direct insult to the heads of the pantheon, who would find a way to arrange a punishment;
- Jason's patron goddess is Hera. It does not occur to Jason that the goddess of marriage and family with an infamous temper regarding her husband Zeus's infidelity might get angry at him for breaking his marriage vows and leaving his wife for another woman, particularly after all the help she's given him on his quests.
- When Medea was influenced to fall in love with Jason, she not only abandoned her family and sacrificed everything she had but killed some of them to protect Jason from pursuit, and uses trickery and violence to solve nearly every problem he has. It does not occur to Jason that dumping his devoted wife will redirect her violent tendencies onto himself;
- Medea is the granddaughter of a friggin' sun god (from which she had inherited the power to drive enemies mad with a look), a Mama Bear, an incredibly skilled healer and foreign-born, the latter meaning her children would risk being sold into slavery if she's dumped. It does not occur to Jason that putting her children at risk of a Fate Worse than Death would cause her to protect her children the only way she could see and punish him.
- This one is shared with the Corinthians in general and their king in particular: they had seen her abilities when she saved them from a famine... And convinced Jason to dump her in spite of knowing well she was incredibly powerful.
YMMV / Medea